August 22, 2007

The Level of Tension is Reaching New Heights

MABB © ®

Update:

What happened yesterday in Sucre you ask?

The headline summary is: Confrontation, Repression, Violence and Paralyzation.

Almost the whole city was mobilized. There were several marches through the streets, which in the end came together in front of the Gran Mariscal Theater. The people actually tried to stop the session, which after weeks of recess was taking place. At one point, the police barricade was broken and chaos reigned.

In consequence, the President of the conclave declared it in recess due to lack of security. She was right, because several assembly members were physically assaulted. Specially in danger were people from La Paz and, of course, some Sucrences who were not supporting Sucre. There was also a violent confrontation between police forces and protesters, which left 10 wounded (one of them seriously). Among that crowd were Sucre's Mayoress and the president of the committee for the campaign to move the seat of government. During the afternoon and into the night, several offices of MAS were damaged and at least one house, where an assembly member was hiding in, was vandalized.

Surprising, to me, was the decision of the Cochabamba Civic Committee to support Sucre. I think it was coordinated with the Media Luna civic committees.

The tension is certainly not off. First because the MAS is still trying to make the resolution which strikes the moving of the seat of government to Sucre off of the agenda. And second, because the MAS and the government have used their majority in Congress to impose an impeachment procedure for some judges in the Constitutional Court. This move is seen as too authoritarian from the part of the government.

---------------------------------------------
If you've been reading MABB, you know I was alarmed at the rising of tensions in the Constitutional Assembly lately. After evaluating the year's work of the CA, I was worried to see the level of alarm reach the 'Elmo' level. Well, not it seems that alarm level is reaching a new height.

As I write this post, the citizens in Sucre are getting ready to assemble in front of the place where the CA meets, the Gran Mariscal Theater. They want to loudly protest against the seemingly unorthodox and arbitrary methods of the majority group, MAS.

It seems as though, MAS, in addition to having angered the Sucre citizens by arbitrarily removing the motion to debate the move of the seat of government, are getting ready to go ahead an approve their proposed constitution using their majority votes. An action which is widely repudiated, not only by the opposition, but also by the citizens of Sucre.

The move is supposed to come late in the afternoon, after having considered two additional commission reports, in an item described only with the word, 'various'. The opposition fears that MAS will attempt to pass its proposal, which then would have to be considered by the CA in detail.

Meanwhile, the situation in Sucre has also gone up a notch. As of yesterday, there were 32 hunger strike groups with around 269 people fasting. A 200 member strong anti-riot police group arrived to the city, inspiring deep distrust and skepticism among the people. The Ponchos Rojos militia group sent 50 of their men to 'defend the assembly' and a group of the Santa Cruz civic committee is also due to arrive in the City.

The fear of violent confrontation is always there, when you have antagonist groups coming together. However, if we consider what happen recently in Santa Cruz, it could be argued that the tensions will just be only that, tensions. Although, it is important to keep in mind, these types of things are very volatile, specially in Bolivia.

12 comments:

Kevin said...

Sadly - looks like it is time for a golpe de estado by the military to bring some order to this mess.

Evo has proven so weak. With his 54% if he was smart could have brought in reforms slowly along with the increased gas revenues. He and the MAS over-reached and now it looks like we are again "on the brink".

Serves him right - those that bring down the government (Evo brought down Goni, Mesa and Rodriguez) will eventually be brought down. Looks like his time is coming.

miguel (mabb) said...

Man, I would hope Bolivia is far from slipping back into the old pattern of turning to the military to solve its problems. Especially, when the military hasn't done anything other than make things much worst.

sucker said...

Well, that is one hell of a thing to say Kevin. As a Bolivian who grew up luckily after the last dictator had fallen and who still supports this process of change and the democratically elected government, I'm surprised Miguel's response was so benevolent.

We may disagree on many things from what I've read on this blog, but I know that is one thing all Bolivians agree about.

Gringo said...

I have a STRONG agreement with the previous two comments. A long-standing issue in Bolivia, perhaps THE issue, has been using force instead of compromise to solve political disputes. Whether it is in the form of coups or blockades of roads, it has been used on all sides of the political fence.

The recent brawl in the Chamber of Deputies, which you will undoubtedly be posting on later, is another example of this. Bringing in the milicos will not solve the problem, but continue it. Bringing in the milicos to solve the problem of using force instead of compromise would be like giving whiskey to an alcoholic.

Nor could bringing back the milicos be justified by claiming that the milicos are more objective and competent than the civilians. Bring back Meza? The milicos did not have a very good track record. While Bolivia has its problems, I believe that it has progressed beyond resorting to milcos.

Here are some links on the brawl in Congress.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6960034.stm

http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-08-23-voa76.cfm

http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2007/08/smackdown-in-bolivian-congress.html
(secondary source, as it used the first two, but the video was more user-friendly for me.)

Gringo said...

BTW Miguel, you are now linked to in Gateway Pundit. Maybe that will get you more traffic.

miguel (mabb) said...

Thanks!

Bolivia Libre said...

Mabb, I don’t know why you find surprising that Cochabamba sided with Sucre in this specific situation, or is that you believe that there is a real belief among the “media luna” that it will be better to move the Capital from La Paz to Sucre. That topic was the bargain card brought up to the negotiating table by those opposing the totalitarian regime of Morales and their mazist.
As a matter of fact, I will affirm that is Chuquisaca the one that shifted its alliance, since it did not participated in that past December’s civic committee strike, the one that pissed of the regime and terminated in Bloody January in Cochabamba. To our disgrace, I seriously doubt the mazist will understand that today somebody finally obtained 2/3 of support in Bolivia and that the same recipe they applied to Cochabamba is going to try to be applied in Sucre next 10th of September. A recipe proven inefficient and bloody the beginning of this year, and a confrontational recipe proved bloody today in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
Sucker, the last Bolivian dictator has not fallen, he is seating in the presidential chair at the moment; you do not need to be in the military to be a tyrant. I will translate the word Lula de Silva, president of Brazil, said yesterday when asked if he was planning to run for the presidency of his country again: “When a political leader starts to think that he is indispensable, unchangeable, a small dictator is on the rise”. The man is not going to seek another re election, why you think he is doing that for?
http://bolivia-libre.blogspot.com

miguel (mabb) said...

Because Cochabamba overwhelmingly voted for Morales in the last elections. If you take a look at the numbers, you'll see.

Even, the so called middle class voted for Morales.

So naturally, one would say Cochabamba supports Morales. However, that is not the case anymore. At least, Cala Cala and the vicinity does not do it.

Bolivia Libre said...

Miguel; is not as clear as you are putting it, remember that the only reason that Cochabamba is an issue for the regimen at this precise moment is because the Cochabambinos did not really trusted Evo and elected Manfred as prefect. If the mazist would have had the “prefectura”, there wouldn’t be the opposition that we have today in that department and bloody January wouldn’t have existed.
At the same time, autonomies did have a strong support in the city of Cochabamba, with all the time and money spent against it and almost non in favor; the regime wants it or not, more than 50% of the Cochabambino population is in Cochabamba city and I can assure you there is no mazist majority at the moment, at a whole and not only in Cala Cala and vicinities.
Sucre in the other hand; has only become against the regime for the simple reason of the change of capital discussion, or not wanting to discuss about it by the mazist in reality. At least the non political people in Sucre, I am pretty sure that the movement of the capital to Sucre is not even an idea from someone in that city; it is one of the possibilities played by the opposition to the regime and the one that cashed in. Since it was up to the mazist for it to become an issue and they fall for it.

miguel (mabb) said...

Thanks for the comments. I am in Norway right now, I will answer as soon as I get back.

miguel (mabb) said...

If I understand you correctly, MAS doesn't have much support in Cochabamba.

I can just say, take a look at this link (the electoral results for the general elections in 2005 and the constituent assembly in 2006.

Resultados electorales de la CNE

ana said...

Es muy importante entender la manipulación que sufren los Ponchs Rojos, el asunto no es como lo muestra la prensa. Les sugiero entrar al siguiente link:
http://www.periodicopukara.com/articulo-del-mes.php
O si entran después del 7 de enero el siguiente:
http://www.periodicopukara.com/pasados/pukara-26-articulo-del-mes.php
que dan elementos de debate y reflexión muy novedosos